Rickey Ortega comes through again for Coatesville in a dramatic 29-21 win at Downingtown West
Ricky Ortega wasn’t about to let go. He couldn’t. All the Coatesville senior quarterback has done is win in his four years as the Red Raiders’ starter. So, a little ankle injury, which has plagued and tormented him through most of this season, wasn’t about to deter him Friday night in what up until now is biggest game of the season.
Ortega exploded for 325 yards passing, running for two touchdowns and throwing for two more, in Coatesville’s 29-21 victory over previously undefeated Downingtown West Friday night at Downingtown’s Kottmeyer Stadium.
The victory sets up another showdown on Friday, Oct. 25, when the Red Raiders (7-1 overall, 3-0 Ches-Mont National Division) go for their fourth-straight league title when they play Downingtown East.
For now, Ricky Ortega will savor the big victory over Downingtown West (8-1, 2-1).
It was his Ortega’s big play that salvaged the game.
Leading 26-21, with the ball sitting at the Coatesville four, after a Dapree Bryant interception, Ortega ripped off a 54-yard run that later set up a Pierce Hadzor 27-yard field goal, giving the Red Raiders a 29-21 cushion—and eventually the game.
This has been a trying year for Ortega, the son of Coatesville head coach Matt Ortega. Ricky, a Villanova commit, injured his ankle in the Red Raiders’ 28-7 win at Cumberland Valley on Sept. 6. Since then, he’s been gradually recovering, playing a little here and there.
It’s been painful. It’s been stressing. But Ricky has succeeded, despite everything.
Ricky has fought through the adversity and he’s back close to 100-percent.
“I felt like I was 100-percent and played like myself for the first time this year,” Ricky said. “On the long run (that set up the field goal), I called a draw, and felt great running. I was running in the first half and I trusted myself and get that play for my team, that was huge.
“My teammates trusted me and I trusted in them. I like where we are right now. We’re improving each week. Right now, like my dad said earlier this year, this year is a test. We’ve been playing every game with a chip on our shoulders. It’s been good for us, because usually we’re the ones everyone is coming after.
“This was a different path for me, too, taking more of a leadership role this year. Beating Downingtown West, which I never lost to in four years, and they were picked to win the league, it meant a lot. It was a great team win.”
Matt Ortega was certainly proud of his team. But as a coach whose son is one of the team’s stars, he had to walk a careful balance beam. Ricky wanted to play, and Matt knew it wasn’t in the best long-term interest for the team or to his son and star quarterback.
“The kids played their butts off and our motto was to want it more than them, and to be more physical,” Matt said. “Ricky was playing in pain. All year, our year our goal was to get him as healthy as we could. We told Ricky to lay it all on the line and play through it.
“He fought through the pain and getting hit. But it wasn’t just Ricky. I was our whole team. It says something about Ricky, but it says something about the character of our kids. There were absolutely a few arguments, because Ricky always wants to play. He respects my decisions, but Ricky was healthy and he knew he had to run to win.
“I’m proud of him as a senior and what he did as a leader. Ricky never really had to fight through adversity before this year, and the biggest testament to Ricky—and our team—is they turned a corner and it all led to winning as a team.”
That’s what quality leaders do.
It looks as if, once again, the PIAA District 1 6A title may go through two-time defending district champ Ricky Ortega and Coatesville.
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